SocietyNovember 5, 2021

How not to be a prick this Guy Fawkes


Guy Fawkes is dumb and cruel to animals. But if you must…

I am one of those killjoys who doesn’t care for Guy Fawkes night or the private use of fireworks. I recall the horror of being told as a child that people would harm animals by putting double happies or tom thumbs (thankfully long since made illegal) in their ears. Envisioning a Purge-like night of dystopian terror, I would spend November 5 locked in my room with my cat, ready for the invasion of marauding hordes that were looking for her and her sweet little ears. Yes, I had a weapon – a big stick off the feijoa tree. I was going to fuck those zombie, cannibal cat-killers up with every ounce of strength in my seven-year-old body.

Rational? No. Reasonable? Well, yes.

The data on injuries to animals isn’t available, but the SPCA and the Veterinary Association have been among those pushing for the ban of fireworks for many years. It’s not just deliberate injury to animals – which is in my mind the worst evil imaginable – but every year huge numbers of terrified pets go missing or are treated for trauma.

Two characters from horror film The Purge - a character with an axe captioned "Seven your-old me on Guy Fawkes" and a character in a pig mask captioned "My cat chilling under my bed"
She’ll f you up (Image: The Purge/Universal Pictures)

We’re not just hurting animals. ACC has spent $1,812,237 on fireworks injury claims over the last three years, with the most common being burns, lacerations, puncture wounds and soft tissue injuries. They list young men and children as most likely to be hurt. Due to lockdown in Auckland and the lack of professional displays at public events, the number of injuries from private use is expected to peak this year. I’m sorry, but we’re idiots.

Case in point, the banging started on November 2, the date that fireworks became available to buy, and now I’m surrounded by geniuses letting off fireworks in the day time. While the sun is up. A literal ball of fire millions of times brighter than all the shitty $20 boom boxes in the world put together. The parents in my apartment block with newborns or toddlers being deprived of the one or two hours of nap-time reprieve they get during the day are absolutely thrilled.

Which is preferable, however, to the midnight to 2am displays, making day-to-day schooling and coping in lockdown even more excruciating for parents.

Also – who tf is Guy Fawkes and why do we care? I would kind of understand if we were celebrating a plot to blow up British parliament, but we’re celebrating the fact it didn’t work. What in the boot-licking colonies is that about?

Nanny state, fun sponge etc etc but I really am going to be the first one applauding when they’re banned. For now, unfortunately they’re not. So here’s how not to be a prick about it.

Stop setting them off during the day.

I’m no physicist but as the titular “fire” in fireworks won’t be visible, presumably this is just for the bang bang which makes you look like kind of a basic bitch.

Organise a short display at a reasonable hour.

It gets dark at 8pm. 8pm to 9pm seems reasonable, right?

Don’t hold lit fireworks in your hand.

I’m sure the 1,052 people who were paid out ACC claims in the last couple years also thought they were too smart to get hurt.

Don’t aim lit fireworks at others.

See above.

Don’t handle them drunk or high.

I remember watching a drunk friend light a wobbly firework, and then as it fell over immediately and exploded on another friend’s leg. They didn’t sustain any lasting injuries but I can recall the smell of burning skin with more clarity than I’d like.

Don’t let off fireworks around farm animals or zoos.

Horses often injure themselves trying to jump fences or stable doors – like this poor little baby zebra that was killed in Bristol. It really is a form of psychological torture for a lot of animals so just try really hard not to be a person who prioritises their 60-second enjoyment of some ooh-aah pretty lights over hundreds of animals’ safety.

Protect ya pets.

Keep pets in a locked room with treats and familiar blankets and toys. The SPCA even recommends white noise or classical music, and an activity of some kind. Make sure fences are secure and if an animal isn’t used to being stabled, practise keeping them indoors before the night.

Happy Guy Fawkes! And I sincerely hope it’s the last time I can say that.

Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

Get The Spinoff
in your inbox